Researchers from Stanford University have developed a so-called cancer vaccine that showed potential by wiping out all tumors during experiments on mice.
The fight against the disease is ramping up, with developments on cancer detection methods and an increasing number of studies that look to pinpoint the cause of cancer. However, work on the cancer vaccine may be the most important yet, as it has the potential to finally rid the world of the dreaded illness.
How Does The Cancer Vaccine Work?
The body's immune system has the ability to wipe out tumors, but against cancer, it needs a big boost. The group of Stanford University researchers tested about 20 molecules and several antibodies on mice to see which ones would activate immune cells and help them destroy tumors. Apparently, they have found a potent combination.
The researchers first created tumors on mice by inserting cancer cells just underneath their skin. After injecting various combinations of the molecules on the mice, one combination showed the best results. The combination was CpG, a DNA snippet, and an antibody against the immune cell protein OX40.
"When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body," said Dr. Ronald Levy, the senior author of the study that was published in the Science Translational Medicine.
According to Levy, on their own, the molecules do almost nothing. However, when injected in combination, the tumors on mice disappeared in less than 10 days. After less than 20 days, even tumors that were not injected with the molecules disappeared.
Levy's team also tested the combination on mice that had a high risk for breast tumors. For mice with two tumors, injecting one tumor with the combination prevented the growth of the second one. The combination also stopped the appearance of new breast tumors.
Cancer Vaccine To Go To Human Trials
The researchers believe that the cancer vaccine that they discovered is cost effective, as only one injection is needed to activate the immune system's response against all tumors. In addition, it is unlikely to lead to adverse side effects, which is seen in other methods of immune system stimulation.
Levy's colleagues have launched human trials, involving 15 patients with low-grade lymphoma. If the trials prove to be successful, Levy thinks that the treatment will be useful in eliminating many types of tumors. He hopes that in the future, doctors will inject the combination of molecules into tumors of cancer patients, so that when they are removed, there will be no chance for the cancer to recur.